We are in week three of the build and despite continuing difficulties with the weather, incorporating new members of the volunteer crew, and having to kind of relearn everything we used to be able to do with our eyes closed, Black Rock City is coming into shape nicely, according to city superintendent Tony “Coyote” Perez.
His operative word of the year is “clunky.” “Everything is taking a good amount of time to get going because of continuing supply chain issues. The fact that it’s been three years since anybody did this…everything is stuck closed,” Tony said. Even the gas caps need vice grips to open. Here we are racing towards the gates opening next weekend, when 80,000 participants are expected to descend on the city. Here they come, so we better be ready. “Every object at rest tends to stay at rest, and after three years it takes a lot to get those objects moving again.”
But Coyote is also quite enthused by the new energy all of the new recruits have brought with them. Coyote said it’s a little bit like the old days, “There’s a lot that we have to face and work our way through, but we’re here and we’re doing it. It’s getting done and it feels good.” The Man is up, as he normally is by the Saturday night before the gates open.
The Man is green this year, the color of hope and the color of rebirth. It is part of a four-year cycle of colors envisioned by Nick Raddell aka Smoke Daddy after Burning Man founder Larry Harvey’s death in 2018. That year, the Man was blue, the color of mourning. The next year he was purple and lined with blue and gold accents, the colors of being beaten up and, as Smoke Daddy says, “Even in the most desperate situation there are bright points to look forward to.” This year the Man will also have accents of gold to have this symbolic shining through of rebirth and renewal. He is out there glowing green with hope and rebirth, no less a symbol of hope and yearning than the green light at the end of Daisey’s dock in “The Great Gatsby,” and participants will look to it with perhaps no less yearning than Jay Gatsby.
As for us, we don’t know yet if our reach has exceeded our grasp. We don’t know if this will propel us forward in our recovery or hurl us backward.
All photos courtesy of John Curley